Midges and green

The train was late. The bus was early. So I had to chuck my running gear on, pack a rucsack and hit the hills. I got the first coat of gloss on the Grad and it’s looking good. There is an insect or two in there too but to be honest they add a little something.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sun = progress

With a lot of help and moral support from Charles project Graduate has moved on. After the one pack / two pack paint debacle and the wettest year in the history of the planet I finally got a weather window in which to risk painting the Graduate. The primer/undercoat is on and it’s looking good. With a bit of luck it might even be on the water this season.


Not much wind…

Not enough wind for a race day but plenty of people turned up at the club providing a busy social day – there was even a pleasantly surprising visit from Sue, Dave and Dylan.

Me, Charles, Peter B., Peter W. and Stuart sailed in a mild breeze for about 90 minutes before the wind disappeared altogether.  It gave me chance to try out my new wind indicator. I needed it too. The wind was all over the place then nowhere at all. Then inevitable rain began to fall and the wind disapeared altogether.

Dylan took Andrew and Elaine’s Pico out for a clean. Forgetting to put the bung in it slowly filled up with water with quite amusing results before Me and Charles retired to the Great Western for refreshments.

Saturday (day before)
Took the kids to B&Q and  bought the paint for the Graduate now (aqua fizz). Now I just need some time and fine weather to finish the job.

Forecast for tomorrow’s race day

From http://www.xcweather.co.uk/forecast/__HD7_6NL

Rhoscolyn to Rhosneigr

A couple of races around the bay then the trip out to Rhosneigr

The trip back to Rhoscolyn

Rhoscolyn 2012

A lot of fun and a lot of photos will take a bit of work to put the story together but here’s some snaps for now.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rescue boat training

It was decided that new members and members needing a refresher prior to the Rhoscolyn trip should put themselves in Andrew’s capable hands to learn how to   handle a rescue. After a briefing Andrew donned Elaine’s dry suite and spent most of the afternoon floating about in the reservoir waiting to be ‘rescued’ by his floundering pupils. There was much hilarity including a group that had to be rescued whilst in the rescue boat. A great afternoon with some valuable lessons learned.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Season Opener

A dull cold day with little wind saw a full club house. Cosy as it was Jane wasn’t to be tempted inside and was the first on the water in her Topper, proving the conditions on the water to be comfortably sailable (is that even a word?). Gwyn rigged Captain Chaos and I rigged the Minisail ready for my return later in the day.

By the afternoon the rain had retreated (to Meltham I was told) leaving Redbrook with just the odd shower to contend with. I was happy to be out on the water again and enjoyed what turned out to be some very pleasant sailing.

Gwyn ‘invented’ synchronised sailing and he, Jane and I practised a few Red Arrows style moves – great fun and handy boat control drill not to mention it would make a great film :-). Gwyn very skilfully won an impromptu backwards sailing race between 2 bouys. Unable to move my boat backwards I sat in the middle of the reservoir watching.

The day ended with dark foreboding  skies and spectacular light which picked out the moorland landscape in almost magical detail. I enjoyed another 20 minutes on the water before just managing to make it back to the jetty before losing the wind entirely.

A most enjoyable and leisurely afternoon of sailing in spectacular scenery.

cobwebs and strange (wind)

Managed to get up to Andrew’s barn and do some more work on the Graduate in the Barn – I’m pretty sure the neighbours must be getting worried about the  noise coming out of that barn. Anyway I got the inside stained and varnished so the whole top just needs a light rub down and a final layer of yacht varnish and it’s done. Other things to do: the repairs on the hull need finishing and I need to finish and stripping and rubbing down the hull before undercoat and paint. The kids are really looking forward to painting the hull and we’re planning a paint choosing trip. I’m hoping to have it finished and near the water by next weekend.

Sunday: met Charles, Gwyn and Sally up at the club for a spot of pre-season sailing. Like true gentlemen we let Sally go out first to recci the conditions :-). I discovered a broken rudder on my minisail which was expertly fixed by the inventive Mr Prosser before I set sail in what turned out to be the most bizzare conditions. The wind was strong, gusty, non-existent, north-southerly, east-westerly – everything and nothing. Most frustrating. I lasted only about 20 minutes before giving up – th0ugh this was mainly due to the numbness in my fingers. The kids were out having adventures in the kayak for quite some time too. It was, however, a most enjoyable day in good company and I’m looking forward to the official start of the season at this Sunday’s sail/social.


Project Graduate

The club own a Graduate which they have been repairing this winter. I’m going to take it over and use it but first it needs a bit of care and attention. Me, Zuni and Nerissa have been going over to Andrew’s barn, where the boat is currently in ‘dry dock’, and  stripping off the old varnish and paint. It’s already looking pretty good me and we’re looking forward to choosing a new colour, getting it repainted and out on the water.

First sailing in 2012

Went up to the reservoir and met up with Charles to knock the rust off and see if I could still a) rig my boat and b) sail it. All went well – like riding a bike I suppose. A fairly moderate breeze made for a couple of hours of pleasant sailing whilst Zuni and Jasmine sun bathed on the dam.

This year’s season officially starts on 22nd of April.


AGM and presentation dinner

What a great evening. Just photos for now but I will write this later.


Couldn’t sail. Had to take the kids to Blackpool, well Cleveley’s. I popped up to the club where I found Andrew, Stuart, Philip and Pat screaming around the perimeter of the reservoir in high wind. Looked like great fun too.

wind, fog and a dodgy chinese meal

“Take my Topper out while I eat my lunch” said Gwyn.

I got my wetsuite on and did as I was told. With winds reaching 39mph I was soon to find out that a six foot four, thirteen and half stone sailing novice plus a small boat  equals disaster.

It was almost minutes before I was blown helplessly down to the far eastern end of the reservoir – Capsize Corner – a place I know well.  While I was there I decided to do a bit of reservoir maintenance and  drag the lose buoy safely onto dry land. All this took some time. As they couldn’t see me due to the fog the folk in the club house became a little concerned and Stuart sailed out to check that I was OK. I got back in the boat and tried to follow him back to the club house. This wasn’t at all easy as the boat just didn’t want to sail anywhere near the wind. I fought with it for a while and was almost back at the clubhouse when I stalled on a turn. After another 20 minutes of battling and bouncing off the dam wall I ended up back down at Capsize Corner. Where I stayed.

Now all this seemed a little more than the ‘ghostly hand’ that sometimes paralyses Gwyn’s boat so I came to the conclusion that there was a problem with the rigging and as, I’d been over a couple of times, that there might be excessive water in the hull. I decided to un-rig the boat, empty the hull of water, re-rig it and sail happily for the rest of the afternoon. Well, I wasn’t going anywhere else. As I dragged the boat onto the reeds and eventually onto dry land at Capsize Corner I noticed Stuart and Andrew racing. I don’t know how much time passed but the next I knew they’d taken their boats in and walked down the dam wall to help me.

We dragged the boat towards the western end of the reservoir before emptying out the water and rigging it. Then with me on board Andrew dragged it into the spot in the water most likely to enable me to sail happily back to the club house – home and dry. The wind had other ideas and wasted no time in driving me straight towards the dam where, after a couple or three more capsizes and plenty of time in the water I beat a hasty retreat back to my favourite corner. So much for the time spent re-rigging the boat then!

Andrew asked if he might try. Relief!

As I was wading chest deep through the water pulling the boat with Andrew in it back to the launching point I remember feeling like I was in one of those Vietnam war films. I gave Andrew (and the boat) a hearty push. He was off! And it looked like he might make it. Forgetting I was atop the Pennine Moors, in a reservoir, in the rain…and the fog, I tried a celebratory swim. It was fun too but it wasn’t long before I lost all feeling in my fingers so I hopped out and walked back along the dam.

Expertly handling the boat through the horrendous wind Stuart made it back long before I did. Now freezing I changed out of my wet suit and drank a cup of tea before packing the boat away.

You can’t plan day’s out like this. Great experience, great camaraderie and most of all great fun.  The end of the (official) season is closing in fast now but I’m planning on going right through winter.

st. luke’s little summer

Wind SW

I thought something was wrong when I arrived at the club to find no boats rigged and people still sitting around clothed.  It wasn’t long before folk sprung into activity and we were soon sorting out who was sailing what and where. To make the race more competitive and enjoyable for the Enterprises, Andrew all but insisted that I take the Laser out again. I did what was best for the club and got it rigged.

We got plenty of races in and as usual there were plenty of incidents. Charles finished the first race almost underwater due to a missing bung, Noddy lost the wind and ended up going against the traffic at the start of a race before crashing into Charles etc… luckily none of them involved me (this time) – well not that I know of anyway.

Due to a rigging mistake I handicapped myself by half a lap in the first race but somehow still managed to come second. Andrew worked out a handicapping system – everyone except me and Philip and Pat could miss the F bouy on the last lap. This proved very effective and the subsequent races all had much closer and exiting finishes. One of the most memorable saw Stuart in his Topper expertly holding me off in the much faster Laser to win the race. I spent most of the races in Philip and Pat’s wake trying to work out how to get past them – I couldn’t of course but it was good fun and educational.

I did win a couple of races, the ones on which I got good starts but up at Redbrook it really is the taking part that is so enjoyable. A glorious autumnal afternoon with some great sailing and wonderful people.

  • Me: Laser
  • Andrew: Pico
  • Stuart: Topper
  • Philip & Pat: Enterprise
  • Noddy & Milly: Enterprise
  • Sally: Topper
  • Charles: Topper
Rounded the day off with dinner and a pint in the Great Western with the family. 
Oh the title? It came from Charles. Ask him or Google it.

autumn sunset

Couldn’t resist it really. A wonderful autumn day and Charles was out too. The sort of afternoon’s sailing that’s good for the soul, Charles’s bacon butties and a pint in the Great Western! What’s not to like?


dragon boots and laser quest

I arrived at the club to find pleasant conditions and a moderate breeze so I set about rigging my Minisail – forerunner to the Topper – with the big Minisail sail. I set sail in a wind strong enough to achieve satisfying speeds without being extreme. I was halfway across the reservoir then everything suddenly stopped. As the boom clattered noisily onto the hull I noticed the Minisail’s sail loosely flapping around the front of the boat (bow). It didn’t take me long to realise that I’d ripped another clew out of another sail….. [pause for ‘jokes’: haven’t got a clew; clewless etc etc.].

Grabbing the end of the sail (we’ve been here before) I was able to navigate my way onto the dam wall where I tied the boat to a rock, de-rigged it and walked back to the club house. Kindly saving me the job Gwyn took to the kayak and rescued the Minisail – forerunner to the Topper. By the time he’d got it back to the jetty I’d got changed and decided to call it a day. I dragged the boat up to the mooring (is that the right word?) and was about to leave when Andrew suggested that I should borrow Philip’s (or Richard’s?) Laser. Hmm, this might just save the day. I began to perk up again.

Meanwhile back at the ranch….

dragon boots

Next season's fashion?

…Gwyn’s quest for the ultimate cold water winter sailing foot furniture has led him to acquire the above! Who else but Gwyn could find such an appropriately eccentric loafer in the Cuckoos Nest? Note also the rubber over sock worn under the shoe, essential to the mechanics of the whole system (I’m pretty sure gaffa tape was involved somewhere too).  Whatever, he was keen to test them out and was soon zipping across the reservoir on Captain Chaos.

Back to the plot

Me and Philip (mostly Philip… a lot mostly Philip) got the Laser rigged and onto the water. It wasn’t the size of the boat or its reputed speed that made me nervous. It wasn’t even because the sail was big enough to have it’s own gravitational field. It had a centre main – the Laser’s mainsheet operates from the centre of the boat, not the transom where I’m used to. I don’t understand the mechanics of this system and the last time I tried was on Charles’s Topper at Rhoscolyn… just before capsizing.

Andrew found a stick (tiller) and a piece of rope (main sheet) and demonstrated the procedure. I practised Tai Chi like on dry land hoping to embed it firmly into muscle memory before getting into the boat. After a while I felt I’d got it. It felt right. I was confident(ish).

I got in the boat and set off for the first race. I managed to get a couple of practice turns in at the start line, it somehow felt different from the Tai Chi on dry land. The starting hooter wailed and we were off. I decided to hang back, take it easy and get used to the boat and the centre main procedure. The boat had another plan all together and it wasted no time in letting me know. My first turn was rather a panicked affair but it kind of worked. It was so inefficient that it put some distance between me and the other boats.  This was good. For everyone. After a few more turns I realised that the technique I had committed to muscle memory only worked when using the tiller extension. I wasn’t using the tiller extension.

I stayed out after the race to practice and got a bit more comfortable using the tiller extension. Changing to centre main was a bit like driving a left hand drive car – it feels a bit weird at first but after a while it feels probably more natural. I think I came 2nd or 3rd in the next race and began to get a feel for the Laser which, after sailing the Minisail – forerunner to the Topper – felt manageable and stable.

Race 3 and I got a really good start. I somehow managed to catch Pat up rather a lot faster than I had the ability to deal with and just about managed to avoid crashing into the back of her. Seconds after this incident Pat capsized. I felt responsible and hung around to make sure she was OK and shouted my apologies.  An excellent and experienced sailor Pat was soon out of the water, back into her boat and sailing again.

I don’t remember much more of the race except that I found myself in the lead and being chased down by the two Enterprises: Noddy in his and Philip in Gwyn’s. The Laser seemed to be able to sail really close to the wind and I’d noticed that Philip had had to put in an extra tack but Noddy hadn’t and I could tell by the sound of his boat that he must be catching me up. I just managed to get over the finish line in front of him to finish the race first – probably not a win after handicapping but a most enjoyable sail.

race route - wind direction: south west(ish)

late summer evening family sail

A phone call from Gwyn led to a lovely evening up at the reservoir including a picnic dinner, sailing and Chinese lanterns.

Zuni took some great video and photos:

sunday 25th sept 2011

2nd :-)

What a great day. Arrived at Redbrook plate glass mirror with little expectation of any sailing taking place. The only thing disturbing the surface of the water were midges but I optimistically rigged my boat anyway. Andrew, Stuart and Philip turned up with the rescue boat and set about some much needed buoy maintenance. A breeze developed. Enough to push boats round the reservoir. We were off.

I took my boat out then took Gwyn’s Enterprise out with Sally. Andrew organised a race. Me and Sally took part in the Enterprise and managed to come 2nd (disregarding handicaps). Though this was mainly due to other people making mistakes it did feel like we’d sailed a good race – for us novices.

The next race I did in my boat and did quite well until the last half of the last lap where I completely lost the wind and finished a day or two after everyone else. Great fun though. Very chilled out and relaxing. A most pleasant and enjoyable afternoon.

race route

race day woes

Not much to report from today’s sailing day because I’m sulking about it.

  • My boat tipped over whilst tied to the jetty. The hull filled with water. It capsized a lot.
  • Brought my boat back in and emptied the hull.
  • Set off. The difference of and empty hull was immediately noticeable.
  • I shot across the reservoir nearly 50 yards before my rudder broke.
  • I fixed my rudder. Things were good.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


  • I went out on Gwyn’s topper to compare it’s stability and manoeuvrability with my minisail. It was far, far better and I enjoyed 5 minutes of excellent fun until getting stuck at capsize corner.
  • I was held here by ‘the ghostly hand’ that haunts Gwyn’s boat for about an hour.
  • I held up the start of the racing.
  • The hull filled with water.
  • Rigging came undone.
  • I got wet and cold.
  • Stuart excorcised ‘the ghostly hand’ and I limped back to base.
  • We emptied the water out of the hull – this is becoming a theme of my sailing.

  • I took Gwyn’s boat out for a race.
  • I kept stalling or nearly capsizing.
  • I capsized.
  • I took my boat out for the next race.
  •  I capsized.
  • Gwyn took some excellent photos and a video.
  • I need a better boat.
  • I dragged my boat out and went home.
  • I was looked after by Jess and the kids.
  • Corned beef hash, cake and coffee.
  • All is well with the world.

race route

the water is back

The jetty and the 'high water' marker clearly visible under the water.

Called up to Redbrook to drop some stuff off for tomorrow. The water is at it’s maximum level. The highest it’s been for a long time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


oh go on then

It just had to be done. Howling gales all day had me wondering if I could possibly benefit form sailing in such conditions. Of course I could! Even if I spend more time in the water it’s experience and learning isn’t it? Checking Marsden Weather Station told me that winds were gusting up to a maximum of 43mph confirmed it. So I went. The wind speed up at the weather station while I was sailing were as follows:

6:00pm             22mph
6:30pm             20mph
7:00pm             22mph
7:30pm             24mph

I blasted across the reservoir and discovered a kind of sweet spot between the water my boat and the wind whereby everything seemed to just work perfectly and effortlessly together. Great practice for managing conditions and though I thoroughly expected to get a soaking I capsized twice but didn’t go in the water once. All that previous capsize ‘practice’ must be paying off. 🙂

The reservoir is full. Water up to the top of the jetty. I can’t tell you how much easier it was being able to use the jetty without having to worry about the bits under the boat hitting the bottom.


Gwyn launches his Enterprise

There was a club meeting in the Great Western on Thursday. I met Gwyn an hour or so earlier, he wanted to rig his Enterprise to see what it would take to get it back on the water the following Sunday. It turned out all we were short of was a centre board, a problem which Colin solved almost instantly.

I will post a story about what happened to Gwyn’s Enterprise one day, needles to say it was an incident with as much comic hillarity as comedy carnage at the open day race

I was really looking forward to sailing the Enterprise for several reasons: it’s a much bigger boat than I’m used to; I want experience of more boats to guide my next purchase; we both have a lot more experience under our belts; the last time we sailed it it ended in  utter disaster and stage 2 hypothermia; and it seemed like we could have fun doing it.  Saturday came with tree bending wind. I don’t know what wind speed was but when Gwyn contacted me to say sailing the Enterprise might not be a good idea in such conditions I wasn’t dissapointed. I was when I woke up on Sunday morning though. Not a breath! I took the kayak up to Redbrook to find nothing more than a mirror, the only ripples on it being caused by the midges – perfect conditions for paddling the Enterprise.

We hung about and chatted for a bit before a light breeze could be felt – I began to feel optimistic. Gwyn rigged the Enterprise and by the time we had it on the water their was a definite breeze. Enough to have some fun.

Gwyn took the helm and we were off. It was fantastic being in a bigger boat and I could really feel the difference that the jib made. Gwyn offered me the helm so I jumped at the chance. I was surprised at how what I had learned in my Minisail – forerunner to the Topper – easily transferred to this bigger boat and my confidence quickly grew. I took the boat back to the jetty with what is probably the best bit of ‘boat parking’ I’ve ever done. I loved it. It was a really nice boat to sail.

Triumphant and chuffed

Next I took 3 kids out in the Enterprise (Zuni, Constance and Jina) – I was that confident! The kids loved it. They screamed so loud every time the boat heeled slightly they could be probably be heard from the top of Pule Hill. Zuni crewed for me and took charge of the jib – she did a good job too. After this I took Zuni, Jess and Phoebe out getting my first taste of what I’ve always wanted out of sailing – a hobby that all the family can enjoy. It was great fun and they all enjoyed it as much as I did (well that’s what they told me anyway 🙂 )

Having fun with the kids

Phoebe loved it and will be back for more

We ended the day with me and Gwyn taking turns at the helm as the wind died away bringing to a close another wonderful day on the water. Once again I owe a debt of gratitude to Gwyn for his generosity and to Charles and many others at the Redbrook Sailing Club for so much help and advice.

Though I’ve been thinking of a mirror for my next boat I’m now thinking of something bigger – a Wayfarer currently sounding favourite. I’m hoping to organise a trip to Pugneys Water Park (where I think you can hire them) to try one out  before the end of the season.

comedy carnage at the open day race

So, the Open Day Race…

It was windy and very gusty. It wasn’t for the feint hearted. It was great! A bit of apprehension as the more experienced sailors reefed their sails but I was keen to get out on the water. I did OK too. I managed the gusts and stayed on my boat for the most part. Funnily enough I only fell off twice, both times when the gust suddenly disappeared leaving me hanging off my boat with nothing in the sail to counter my weight. I’m not sure they were capsizes really, more like me jumping backwards off the boat and thus kicking it away as I did so. Is that a capsize?

hustle and bustle in a busy club house

Anyway. People turned up. Tea was drunk and lots of sailing took place. My mum and dad even turned up to see what I was up to. and Jess and the kids. With lots of people who had turned up to ‘have a go’ and potential new members the club house was fuller than I’ve ever seen it.

Andrew suggested a race. A small figure of eight circuit across the front of the club house with (I think) 8 boats, the experienced sailors taking out people who had come up for ‘taster sessions’.  Recognising the obvious dangers Andrew expertly went over the ‘give way’ rules for racing. What could possibly go wrong?

The one minute to go hooter went and saw Noddy, Charles and me in almost perfect place for the starting hooter. We were off.

It does look good with boats on it

Here’s how I remember the rest (after several conversations):
Charles got off first, followed by Noddy then me. What went on behind me I’m yet to find out. I was travelling faster than Noddy who – though he was in an Enterprise – had his sail reefed and was carrying passengers so was obviously not racing. I tried to overtake him on the outside when rounding a bouy but this left me further behind. I was happy with that though because it put some distance between us so I could sail without the fear of a collision. I caught him up again. Rounding the next bouy I decided to try to pass him on the inside. Now what were those rules about overtaking? Windward boat? Two boat lengths? Shouting something? Starboard Tack? Right of way? Ah I remember – panic and hope the more experienced sailor sees you and gets out of the way.

Charles takes five

I picked the optimum panic moment. It was as the huge wake from Noddy’s boat engulfed my bow like a tsunami. My poor little boat nose dived like a submarine with a puncture. Tony rounded the bouy in front of me as I came round the wrong side of it. Unable to steer I did the next best thing and shouted “look out” or “man the rescue boat” or something.

At this point I’m not sure of the exact sequence of events. Not that it matters because the result was the finest comedic carnage.

Still in front of Noddy, Charles shot past. Just as I heard him shout “Watch out for my boom” I felt something hook through my jacket and into my buoyancy aid. Yoink! I was pulled backwards off my boat. I can’t remember whether it was before or after this point that my boat T-boned Noddy’s with one hell of a thud. His main sheet ended up tangled around people and bits of boat that it shouldn’t have but his boat did stay upright. Not so for poor Charles. My weight on the end of his boom arrested the forward movement of his vessel and off he flew. Carnage.

race route

As the sail on Charles’ boat filled with water and began to sink I could feel whatever was stuck in my back trying to take me down with it. It wasn’t enough to drag me under it but wasn’t something I was comfortable with. Charles was also caught up in some of his rigging and I couldn’t see how he was  as I had my back to him. I eventually freed myself by ripping whatever I was snagged on out of my clothing. I turned to see Charles was OK and trying to right his boat.  I set about recovering my boat and off we set to finish the race like the plucky chaps we are.

Great fun and the perfect end to a great day’s sailing and socialising…. Except that is for the couple of pints and the huge Sunday Lunch in the Great Western afterwards.